Ideology Clash

DDOC_Daily_Choices_Deepest_Values
image via https://www.colleenpatrickgoudreau.com/

 

What do you do when someone you respect, or even love, shows you a side of themselves that is in direct opposition to values you hold dear and true? This question hit close to the bone for me this week. I’d like to share an anecdote with you, dear Readers, for your consideration as we continue to navigate some tricky waters in the social sphere.

(Spoiler alert: this post will be a bit of a ramble, due to the nature of the story.)

This week I had an interesting discussion with a former professor. I’d stopped into his office to say hello and ask him for some advice about learning how to do costing and portioning for quantity cooking in professional food service. This is his area of expertise, so I figured he’d be a good starting point for a quick lesson, or be able to point me in the right direction for information on the subject.

Our conversation began well enough. He was friendly and seemed happy to see me (it had been a few months since we had last met). When I asked my questions, he started right into a quick lecture on portioning and determining quantities of product for large groups. Then I asked about determining how to order based on a certain budget, say weekly or monthly. My professor seemed to have a ready answer for that too, and pulled up some figures based on an obscure scenario of older people in a nursing home and how much it cost to feed them three meals a day.

I took a look at the list of menu items, broken down by ingredients (a slice of white bread, $0.08, one lettuce leaf, $0.04, one chicken breast, $ 0.45, etc.). That’s when the trouble began.

“But, Professor, I don’t want to feed my guests cheap chicken raised in factory farms under horrendous conditions,” I protested. “I’d rather buy better quality, sustainably raised poultry to serve.”

My professor became agitated and grew red in the face. “Oh, please spare me your political bullshit,” he implored. “I’m asking you to work up a menu based on a budget of less than $3 per day in food costs. Can you do it? If so, I will give you the job. If not, then goodbye!” he flourished with his arm toward the door. I gave a dry laugh, replying, “Okay, then, thanks and goodbye.” I paused a moment, then mused, “I would not be able to work for a place that had no regard for how the food is raised or how the workers are treated. I need to work with people who are in alignment with my values, what I hold to be most important.” He heard me, then calming down, suggested that I could work for the local food bank, that perhaps it would be a better fit for me. We talked a little while further, and then I left.

That conversation and interaction taught me some important lessons. In a flash, I understood that his values were centered around the standard business model of profit as the motivator and bottom line for everything that happens in a food service establishment. It was how he’d been trained decades ago as a chef and manager, before turning to academia and teaching. It is what he continues to teach his students, and sincerely believes is most important to know going into that career path. Once again, it was brought home to me how my most foundational values are at odds with standard business philosophy in a capitalist-based economy. My professor is a product of that system, believes in it whole-heartedly, and teaches it as he feels is his duty. In capitalist economy, you either control all your costs with the goal of making a profit, or you fail. Period. Full stop. In this worldview, there is no room for nonsense like caring about how poultry or any other animal product is raised. It matters not how farm workers are treated, as long as you can get your produce for the lowest price point possible. Profit or die.

Yet, I know that there is another way and system for doing business, and for having an economy that works for everyone. In fact, there are many other models being tested, honed, refined, and experimented upon all around the globe. But, in our current crazed global business model based on profit or perish, most of the people who train to be business owners, CEOs, salespeople, managers and the like, keep to the standard capitalist model which continues to be promoted and taught as THE ONLY and BEST way to keep it all going—linear GDP and all.

When my professor became angry and told me to save my “political bullshit” because I objected to buying factory-farmed poultry, I had a choice. I could have reacted in kind, with anger and defensiveness, and argued further for all the reasons why I feel it is important to not support that industry. Yet, I chose to simply let his anger boil and then settle, without giving it any more fuel. I maneuvered the conversation in another direction, and defused a potentially damaging situation. By the time I got up to leave his office, my professor had regained his composure, and I believe we remain on good terms.

In the times we are living through, these kind of tensions between human beings are more prevalent than ever. Ideologies are more extreme towards one pole or the other than they have been in recent memory. Given this, I saw first-hand how easy it is to throw fuel on the fires that smolder just under the surface of many people’s psyches, and how damaging it is for moving forward towards a world that is more just, kind and loving. Humanity’s boiling point is at a lower temperature than ever, and it is our work to find the tact, honesty and good will to have difficult conversations without succumbing to the destructive heat of anger and self-righteousness. There is way too much of that energy going around on Earth and it is getting us nowhere.

Dear Readers, I plan to write more posts concerning the issues of factory farming and alternatives to eating animals (yes, that means veganism alright). For those of you who haven’t yet considered the possibility of giving up eating animals for a more humane and compassionate world, I encourage you to open to this possibility. And, I hope you will continue reading, regardless of your personal beliefs around eating or not eating animals. It’s a big subject, and extremely relevant to us all moving into the future.

How many more will it take?

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(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) via https://abc7news.com/politics/gunsafe-student-signs-and-slogans-from-school-walkouts/3215255/ 

I live in the heart of Denver, Colorado. For a long time, Denver was an average mid-sized city in the western United States. During the past decade, however, it has grown exponentially into a respected larger city, desirable to startups, tech firms, the marijuana industry, restaurateurs and hotel corporations, as well as real estate developers. As with many American cities during the past few decades, money and development have changed this city almost beyond recognition.

The greater Denver area is also famous for a more somber reason, as it was the site of one of the earliest school shooting tragedies in America, the Columbine School massacre in 1999. Columbine High School is located in a suburb south of Denver called Highlands Ranch, a middle-class, mostly white, average American suburb. The anniversary of that tragedy was April 20th. Police shut down the entire Denver metro area schools that day, due to a threat by a young woman from out of state who travelled to our area, bought a gun, and ended up killing herself in the mountains near Denver.

Today (May 7, 2019), two young men entered the STEM school in Highlands Ranch and opened fire on students in the upper grades. When the police were called, they arrived in a couple of minutes, found and arrested the shooters. But it was already too late—eight students were shot and wounded, and one has since died.

During the past twenty years since the first school shooting in Highlands Ranch, there have been so many shootings by insane people inside public schools in America that most of us have lost count. Doing a quick Google search revealed that in the twenty years since Columbine, there have been 230 school shootings in this country, not including shootings at colleges or universities. https://www.necn.com/news/national-international/School-Shootings-Since-Columbine-508503771.html

According to the Washington Post, “at least 143 children, educators and other people have been killed in assaults, and another 302 have been injured.”  They also reported the total number of children exposed to gun violence in schools stands at “more than 228,000 children at 234 schools.” They noted that the United States government does NOT track gun violence in schools, therefore they decided to investigate the statistics for the public. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/local/school-shootings-database

These numbers and every story that the numbers represent, are horrifying. As the statistics show, The United States, due to an obscene corruption of the Second Amendment, has become one of the most violent and dangerous places in the industrialized West for people, including school children, to live. According to Google, “The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Such language has created considerable debate regarding the Amendment’s intended scope.” https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment. Surely, were the Founding Fathers of the US Constitution here today they would be completely outraged at how misconstrued their amendment has been, toward the rapacious greed of global arms dealers.

It is only Tuesday, and yet within the last 48 hours we have been given dire news of the state of nature on Earth, and now just one more report of school students being shot at during their classes. Last week we read of other students who were tragically shot, with two killed, at the University of North Carolina-Charleston as they sat in a classroom with their professor. Bad news upon more bad news, and it’s all related. Private corporations continue to bully and buy off whomever might stand in their way from reaping profits from the loss of life on our planet—whether human, animal, plant or mineral, it amounts to rape and pillage for the benefit of a very few, at the expense of everyone and everything else.

Tens of thousands have been asking for the past decades: when will this insanity end? When will our government enact gun control laws that are strong, meaningful and will finally end this sacrificing of innocents enabled by the National Rifle Association’s heartless lobbyists, with the help of the most senior officials in Washington DC? The big picture is so insidious and dark that it takes the courage of the strongest warriors we can imagine, just to face it without breaking down. The battle for the Light rages on, more strongly than ever.

Dear Readers, I am well aware that the subjects of my current blog posts are dark, scary and super depressing, and I am truly sorry for it. I am not a person who likes or wants to dwell on all that is wrong with the world, but it feels extraordinarily important to keep bringing light and attention to these events, because they simply will not change unless we do. As an aside, I know a man in the college where I currently work, who is the nicest person you’d ever want to meet—friendly, kind, always smiling and gentle. Yet each time I have brought up anything remotely serious regarding the current news cycle, he laughs dryly, and tells me that he just can’t think about “all that bad news.” As nice as he is, he is cowardly when it comes to facing what is actually happening to us and because of us in the world. There are so many people like him—kind, well-meaning, friendly, harmless—yet they are in denial or simply unwilling to look squarely at the situation we humans have created, or work to find solutions.

There are plenty of bloggers and writers on the internet who are only too willing to report the Upside, put a positive spin on whatever narrative they are selling, and yes, most of it is a sales pitch. But that’s a topic for another blog post. Tonight, I simply send my love and empathy to the students and their families who were hurt today (and condolences to the family of the one who was killed) at the STEM school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. May they find the comfort and healing they need in the days and months to come.

 

 

Getting closer to extinction

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image from https://www.newstalk.com/news/extinction-rebellion-dublin-849302

Dear Readers, many of you know that today, May 6th, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a massive report on the state of our natural world. The news is even worse than many believed. According to the IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Wilson, the evidence presented in the report “presents an ominous picture…the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” (www.ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment)

The report’s authors found that approximately one million species are threatened with extinction in the not-too-distant (meaning within decades) future, if humanity doesn’t put the brakes on global climate destruction through industrialized civilization. Both the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers carried the story in today’s headlines, and I recommend reading them for further details (links below).

Even though this news is truly beyond words in its implications, I struggle to find some tonight in an effort to cope with what is mostly inevitable now—the extinction of much of our world’s natural ecosystems, which will certainly lead to societal collapse for humanity. I have been writing about this consistently for the past few months, as the evidence clearly shows that our common situation is becoming more and more of a crisis. I implore everyone reading to STAY AWAKE to what is now occurring, and DO NOT allow yourself to go numb in the face of what lies ahead. It is all too easy to do this, and in fact, global consumerism is doing everything within its considerable power to entice us to go numb, go shopping, buy a new car (because that will for sure help things along), watch endless sporting events, and any number of other distractions designed to do anything EXCEPT pay attention to what is actually happening now, before our very eyes, on Earth. WE MUST ALLOW OURSELVES TO FEEL THIS NEWS WITH OUR HEARTS.

Yes, it is difficult, nauseatingly so, to honestly face our deepest fears of annihilation. No one, really no one, on our planet wants to admit that we have ruined our precious home, Earth. Millions, even billions, of us are in utter denial, because taking responsibility for what we’ve done is simply far too painful. In the New York Times article today, there were well over a thousand comments on the story. They ran the gamut from utter sadness and despair, to blaming and shaming any number of groups for our predicament—the Baby Boomers, Big Oil and Gas, the government, the Republican Party of America, even people who haven’t made it to the Vegan club yet.

I am 24 years old. For as long as I remember, I have known about and understood climate change and the impacts it would have on us….I want to live the life I have prepared for and that future generations have had, working in my career field and eventually marrying and having children. I fear that my generation won’t be able to do these things or worse, will do them only to compound and perpetuate the problem. My heart is broken.Emily, a reader’s comment in NYTimes May 6th article

But honestly, at this point, what good does it do to point fingers and blame this or that group of humans for the mess we are in? Clearly, Big Oil and Gas corporations have shamelessly and lavishly promoted the use of fossil fuels for over half a century, even as they knew of the risks to our planet by burning them. Yes, those corporations’ CEOs and stockholders should be held accountable for their part in it. And, how many of us in the developed (and now developing) nations have been buying and using gas-fueled vehicles for years and years? The truth is, nearly all of us born before the turn of the 21st century are at fault.

It is time to urgently and collectively engage in the process of answering the question: Now what? How do we turn this ship around and stop destroying our world and all the life upon it? The IPBES Global Assessment Report, in its entirety, gives many suggestions and sound, scientifically proven advice for how to do exactly that. The report was compiled by 145 experts from 50 countries, who analyzed scientific papers and reports from approx.. 15,000 scientific and government sources during the past three years, with input form 310 contributing authors. The report ranks for the first time, the five biggest drivers of change in nature, which are listed (in descending order from most impact to lesser) here: 1) changes in land and sea use, 2) direct exploitation of organisms, 3) climate change, 4) pollution and 5) invasive species. (www.ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment).

Tonight, I feel like I imagine I would if a doctor had just given me or one of my family members a terminal diagnosis. The world’s leading scientists have given us all a terminal diagnosis about the state of our planet’s ecosystems, including the world’s plant, mammal, bird and sea populations. How will we cope with this diagnosis? Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation Facebook group and forum, along with Extinction Rebellion’s websites, are some places to start. There you will find people writing about these reports, ideas, feelings and actions to take as the early medicine to combat our disease. Please do not look away any longer. The sooner we collectively face our self-made tragedy, the sooner we can take actions towards healing and reconciling our part in the new world we’ve created.

Addendum:  In the space of twelve hours, the New York Times moved its article on the climate report down to “In Other News,” I guess to make room for an article titled, “See What the Stars Wore at the Met Gala,” as a perfect example of just EXACTLY what is causing our impending extinctions and current crisis. I am dumbfounded.

Links:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/06/human-society-under-urgent-threat-loss-earth-natural-life-un-report

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/climate/biodiversity-extinction-united-nations.html

www.ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment

https://deepadaptation.ning.com/

https://rebellion.earth/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/deepadaptation/